The best Capital One credit cards
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Capital One has been absolutely crushing it over the last few years. In 2018 alone, it added a high-powered 10x bonus category to the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card for Hotels.com purchases (when booked via this dedicated link through Jan. 31, 2020), and followed that up with the announcement that miles earned on the Spark and Venture card families can be transferred to airline partners.
Best Capital One Credit Cards for 2020
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: Best for travel rewards
- Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business: Best for business travel
- Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business: Best for flat-rate business spending
- Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for dining and entertainment
- Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for flat-rate cash back
Today we’ll take a look at some of the best Capital One credit cards, including those underrated credit cards that don’t always get the attention they deserve. Note that all of the cards on this list also have watered-down, no-annual fee versions — such as the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card — with fewer perks and lower earning rates. But Capital One’s top cards offer significant value and have modest annual fees, so we’ll focus on the big leagues here.
Comparison of the best Capital One credit cards for 2020
|Credit Card||Best For||Bonus||Annual Fee|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Card||Travel Rewards||50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months||$95 (waived the first year)|
|Spark Miles from Capital One||Business Travel||Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 in the first three months of spending and 150,000 miles after spending $50,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening||$95 (waived the first year)|
|Spark Cash from Capital One||Flat-rate Business Spending||Earn up to a $2,000 cash bonus; $500 after you spend $5,000 in the first three months; another $1,500 after you spend $50,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening||$95 (waived the first year)|
|Savor Rewards from Capital One||Dining and Entertainment||$300 after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months||$95 (waived the first year)|
|Quicksilver from Capital One||Flat-rate Cash Back||$150 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months||$0|
How do these five cards help you maximize your points, miles, and cash back on spend? Here’s a rundown of the major card benefits:
Best Capital One Credit Cards
Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.
Rewards: 2x miles per dollar spent on all purchases, 10x miles when booked and paid via hotels.com/venture (through January 2020).
Benefits: While the Capital One Venture Rewards Card first earned its place by offering a consistent 2x miles on all purchases and a simple fixed-value “purchase eraser” redemption structure, the addition of airline transfer partners really put it in a league of its own. Miles transfer at a 2:1.5 ratio to the following airline programs, effectively giving the card an earning rate of 1.5x partner airline miles per dollar spent:
- Aeromexico Club Premier
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Air France-KLM Flying Blue
- Alitalia MilleMiglia
- Avianca LifeMiles
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Etihad Guest
- EVA Infinity MileageLands
- Finnair Plus
- Hainan Fortune Wings Club
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club
Miles transfer to these three additional partner programs at a 2:1 ratio:
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Emirates Skywards
- Singapore KrisFlyer
While you can still use your miles to erase travel purchases from your statement at a fixed rate of 1 cent each, these transfer partners led TPG to value Capital One miles at 1.4 cents each, giving the Venture card an astounding earning rate of 2.8% on all purchases.
All the other features that made this card so great are sticking around, including the 10x bonus category at Hotels.com when booked and paid via Hotels.com/venture (which you can stack with Hotels.com own loyalty program to earn another 10% back), the waived first-year annual fee and the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit (up to $100).
Flexibility is one of the most valuable elements of a good points strategy, and the Venture card delivers loads of it by allowing you to decide on a case-by-case basis whether to use it as a fixed-value or transferable-points card.
Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)
APPLY HERE: Capital One Venture Rewards Card
Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 in the first three months of spending and 150,000 miles after spending $50,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening.
Rewards: Earn 5x miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 2x miles on all other purchases.
Benefits: The Spark Miles from Capital One is a business credit card that gives you access to the same great airline transfer partners as the Venture family of cards. Businesses enjoy the free employee cards, no foreign transaction fees and Visa SavingsEdge benefits. You also get up to $100 in credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck enrollment fees, along with rental collision coverage, emergency travel assistance and roadside assistance.
Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)
APPLY HERE: Spark Miles from Capital One
Sign-up bonus: Earn up to a $2,000 cash bonus; $500 after you spend $5,000 in the first three months; another $1,500 after you spend $50,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening
Rewards: Earn cash back at a fixed 2% rate.
Benefits: Even if your business prefers cash back over travel rewards, you can still get great value out of your credit card usage. The Spark Cash from Capital One is identical to the Spark Miles card in all ways but one: It earns cash back instead of transferable miles. That saves you the trouble of having to identify travel purchases made in the last 90 days to redeem your miles for a statement credit. Instead, you’ll easily get cash in your pocket. Just remember you’re unable to transfer rewards to Capital One’s airline partners with this card.
Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)
APPLY HERE: Spark Cash from Capital One
Sign-up bonus: $300 after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.
Rewards: The card earns 4% back on dining and entertainment, 2% back at grocery stores and 1% on everything else.
Benefits: The Savor Rewards from Capital One is a pure cash-back card that aims to compete on its earning rates, not on perks and benefits. There are credit cards out there with more valuable individual bonus categories, but if you’re looking for a no-frills, no-nonsense card with multiple solid bonus categories all in one package, the Savor is a great choice to consider. Just make sure you’re getting more than $95 worth of cash back from it after the first year — otherwise you might want to consider the no-annual fee Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card instead. With its solid earning rates for dining and entertainment spending, the Capital One Savor Rewards card earns a spot as one of our picks for the best cash back credit cards.
Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)
APPLY HERE: Savor Rewards from Capital One
Sign-up bonus: $150 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months.
Rewards: Earn a fixed and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
Benefits: The Quicksilver from Capital One is about as simplified as you can get, so for people who don’t want to spend time learning award charts and maxing out transfer bonuses, it can be a decent option. Its rewards are not the best rate on the market, but are passable, especially for a no-annual-fee card. While the sign-up bonus isn’t massive, the spending requirement is low. That said, if you’re in the market for a no-annual-fee cash back card like this, you’d likely be better off picking the Citi® Double Cash Card instead.
Annual fee: $0
APPLY HERE: Quicksilver from Capital One
Main benefits of Capital One Credit cards
Capital One made its Venture and Sparks Miles cards more valuable when it added the ability for cardholders to transfer the miles they earn to 15 partner airlines at a 2:1.5 – 2:1 ratio. For those with no loyalty to one hotel, the chance to earn 10x miles when booking rooms at hotels.com/Venture through January 2020 is a great perk.
The flat miles and cash back earned on Capital One Venture, Miles and Quicksilver cards makes things simple for cardholders, since you don’t have to worry about remembering which spending categories offer higher rewards. If you spend regularly on dining an entertainment, the 4% cash back on the Savor card is a good deal.
The new 5x for hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel offered by the Spark Miles from Capital One card are really helpful for businesses that spend regularly in these categories. Finally, you have to love the extremely generous sign-up points and cash back currently being offered by the Spark Miles and Spark Cash cards, respectively.
How to redeem Capital One rewards
Redemptions on all the cards is pretty simple. With the Venture or Spark Miles, you can use Purchase Eraser to receive a statement credit for the cost of travel booked with either card. You can also go to capitalone.com or call the Capital One Rewards Center to book a flight, car rental or hotel and use your miles to pay for them. Redeem your Savor, Spark Cash or Quicksilver cash back as a check, set up automatic redemptions at a set time or at specific cash thresholds or redeem it for statement credits or gift cards.
How we choose the best Capital One credit cards
We reviewed the entire Capital One credit card lineup for the best offers and studied their pros and cons. Our method for assigning value to these cards relied upon assessing the real value of the sign-up bonus, rewards, perks and annual fees. Each points program has its own TPG Monthly Points Valuation.
While premium credit cards are all the rage these days, Capital One has taken a different approach. None of these cards offer a lengthy, exhausting lists of perks that you may or may not remember to use, none of them cost more than $100 and they’re all free for the first year.
Capital One has focused on providing a good value proposition in terms of earning and redeeming, instead of complicating things with flashy and expensive perks. Whether you’re an individual or a business, and whether you are looking for miles or cash back, Capital One has a card that can help you achieve your travel goals.
Related Rewards Card Guides
- How to redeem Capital One miles at a fixed value
- Best travel credit cards
- Best cash-back credit cards
Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson.
SIGN-UP BONUS: 50,000 Miles
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $700
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Miles are now transferrable to over a dozen airline partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
- Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
- Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
- Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
- Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
- Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
- No foreign transaction fees
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that